And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
Zacchaeus was little of stature. In our kid’s song from earlier, he was a wee little man. Other Bible translations refer to him as short.
Was there significance to the fact that Zacchaeus was short, or was this simply a literary description of him? I really had never thought about the issue at all. Given Luke’s status as a historian, I just thought of it as a descriptive thing. The short guy, the big guy, the skinny guy, and so on. As happens sometimes, however, readers have made me think. Here are some comments:
“Wally, it’s amazing that wee Zacchaeus didn’t develop a “Little Caesar” complex. Hmmm. Or did he?”
“I can’t help but wonder if the detail that he was a “wee little man” is significant…as if it is part of his identity or something? Little Man Syndrome? lol Just a guess!” Any thoughts?
Isn’t that interesting? It made me think for sure, so let’s just poke around a bit shall we? Did the fact that Zacchaeus was short mean anything besides that he was short? I really don’t know, but something interesting did come to mind. Feel free later to add any thoughts you might have.
It was pointed out by Anita that, as far as she knew, we never got such a specific physical description of anyone Jesus interacted with. I really couldn’t find such either. There were sick people, disabled people, and other things; but never really just what a person looked like.
One other case in the Bible where a person’s physical characteristics were clearly described, and seemingly described as part of their character follows here:
1 Samuel 9:2
And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.
Saul: Handsome, tall, and outstanding in every respect. From an important family from the Tribe of Benjamin. But all accounts, the future King Saul was a “good” man.
A good man, picked by a rebellious people to be their king. God never wanted that; he wanted to be their King. The people picked a good man, a fine physical specimen; the people applied their own standards of “good,” and “not good,” to determine who would lead them.
Everybody remember how that all worked out? Like the people who picked him Saul decided he knew better than God, rebelled, and was rejected by God. His walk of faith ended in a shambles and in tatters.
Good man, bad man. Does that sound familiar? Tall man, short man.
Anyway, let’s get back to Zacchaeus. Did Zacchaeus being short affect who he is? Probably, yes. Then, as now, for a man to be significantly smaller than his peers can influence how one looks at life. As Tom said, did he want to be a “Little Caesar?” Could that have driven his career choice? Who knows, right?
What does all this have to do with anything? I am going to step out on a limb here. Saul, and the rich young ruler were both good, acceptable, important men. Both rejected God. Our tax collector was a bad man, accepted by nobody.
God accepted him; God loves and accepts all. Good, bad, tall, or short. God is no respecter of persons.
God extends his arms to us all, and the only thing questionable is how we will respond.